The Official Preppy Handbook (clipped to polyvore.com)
The preppy lifestyle is not just about fashion (although Nantucket red chinos, Top Siders without socks, and Polo shirts with upturned collars were certainly de rigueur), it’s about a lifestyle. It has the patina of old money and country club tradition, but with a more colorful and casual exuberance. It’s definitely not about age, as much of the clothing works for generations and certainly some truly Boston Brahmin preps keep their clothes for that long! True preppy style derives more from the windblown feeling that you’ve just pulled your skiff in after a bracing morning on the water than a white dinner jacket evening at the club.
I asked Scot Meacham Wood, of SMW Design and the blog Tartan Scot, a Southern boy currently living in San Francisco, his take on modern prep. Known for his great collection of plaid blazers, Wood is the embodiment of casual preppy chic. When asked about preppy fashion, Wood says it’s all about cut and fit. "This current 'preppy movement' is much more body conscious than the one I remember from the 80’s. This current trend is also a bit more 'weathered,'" he said. "The clothing has more of a sense of history. Many people find the tattered oxford shirts and patch-covered jeans to be more of a pastiche. Luckily for me, I still have all the oxford shirts from my college years - so the tatters are legitimate."
Wood points to menswear designer Michael Bastian as doing a great modern preppy look. "He has, in the last few years, completely re-imagined the modern preppy male. Beautiful, classic clothing, but with a fit that is much more body aware than the baggy khakis and loose sweaters that we wore in the 80’s," he said.
When it comes to home interiors, Wood also noted the breezy new Lily Pulitzer collection for Lee Jofa, saying he is particularly taken with the great patterns, amazing colors and "sheer happiness" of the line. "It certainly represents a style that is considered to be 'classic' American", said Wood.
In the wrong hands, preppy style becomes a cliché, almost a uniform. Red trousers: check; Top Siders: check; sailboats: check, check. But these things only scratch the surface. Decking your home in sailboat motifs and brown leather furniture (the interiors version of the uniform) doesn’t truly capture the breezy essence of the preppy lifestyle. In addition to Ralph Lauren and Lily Pulitzer lines mentioned above, here is a list of 5 must-have items that capture the essence of the preppy home.
2. Breezy bedding from Pine Cone Hill’s Cape Calm collection
3. Brightly lacquered Chinese Chippendale chairs. Classic design style meets pretty exuberance.
4. Pottery Barn’s Chesterfield leather sofa is all about tradition and comfort. The leather will develop a wear-worn distressed look over time, fitting right in the style.
5. Lily Pulitzer for Lee Jofa
6. The Lighthouse Denim and White striped rug by Dash and Albert Rug Company feels fresh underfoot, like a snapping sail or a classic button down shirt.
7. Ralph Lauren Home